Within the last week, I’ve changed my mind about free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis, formerly of the New York Jets.
At first, I felt that maybe Revis didn’t want to play anymore. Perhaps his last season in New York was a sign that he had lost something. I also had this gut feeling that Revis might want to stick around the NFL to pick up another paycheck.
A hefty one at that.
However, after listening to Darrelle’s interview with NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, I’ve come to realize a few things about Revis, one of which, is he feels he still has enough left in the tank to contribute for a team.
Specifically, Revis said it would be a “dream come true” to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"Hopefully we’ll have a conversation with the Steelers and see if we can come up with something good." — Revis
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) March 15, 2017
The question on everyone’s mind is: should the Steelers give Revis a look?
Brian Roach and I discussed this the other day on the Steel City Underground Podcast, and here are a few of the things we came up with.
First of all, Revis is well aware he is getting older, and maybe even losing his edge. Any team in the NFL could see that.
Aside from LB James Harrison, the Steelers have been pushing to get younger and faster on defense. Adding Darrelle to the mix would be a step in the opposite direction, as the native of nearby Aliquippa, PA will turn 32-years-old in July.
That could be the first strike against a potential deal between Pittsburgh and the corner.
The second strike could be the cost of signing a certain future Hall of Famer, who is used to earning big money in the league. Initially, this was also my reaction against reaching out to do a deal with Revis, as I had thought he would be too expensive for the Steelers. The higher the cost, the more risk which is involved.
However, in his interview with Kinkhabwala, Revis claimed he would be willing to play for the league minimum. NFL insider Ian Rappoport confirms those claims:
Unless a team pays Darrelle Revis more than $6M, he’ll play for the minimum. Why? #Jets owe him $6M with offsets. They cover costs up to $6M
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2017
The Steelers were one game away from the Super Bowl last season. That’s a far cry from where the New York Jets ended up in 2016. Politely phrasing this, the Jets were a dumpster fire, with a number of issues on both sides of the ball. Many experts and analysts were criticizing the team for “phoning in” games as the season wore on.
The rest of the Jets secondary was as much of a mess, which didn’t do Revis any favors. He was no longer “Revis Island” as he had become known for his lock-down press coverage the position. Instead, he also became “easy pickings” in certain scenarios, but to be quite honest, he didn’t have much help from others in that secondary such as Calvin Pryor or Buster Skrines.
Consider how those things weighed on how Revis’ play turned out last season, then consider his comments in Aditi’s interview. He sounds like a player with a chip on his shoulder, who could offer something to a team willing to take a chance.
Of course, if you were a perennial All-Pro player at your position, would you consider playing for just about anyone? Or would you want to play for a contender?
Don’t forget: the Steelers aren’t only Revis’ boyhood team growing up, but a franchise who fell one game short of playing in the Super Bowl last season. The latter part could influence Darrelle’s decision as much as the former.
What would a player like Darrelle Revis offer the Steelers? And what does he have left?
If “Revis Island” is closed for business, that is, the player can no longer ply his trade as a press corner, the Steelers system might be an excellent fit for him. There has been speculation that Revis could transition to safety, but that won’t be necessary if he came to Pittsburgh. First, the Steelers already have an excellent pair of safeties in Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis. Second, if the Steelers continue using their zone schemes on defense, the change could hide any potential weaknesses in Revis’ present play, and spotlight his strengths.
Adding a veteran like Revis may also benefit younger corners such as Artie Burns, and help them advance their play by learning from one of the league’s best. If the Steelers do not re-sign Ross Cockrell, this could also open up a spot where Revis could step in as a starter. But if Pittsburgh brought back Ross, would Darrelle have a role? And would he be willing to be a backup if that did happen?
Are the Steelers interested?
That will all depend on the team philosophy (man-versus-zone coverage, and getting younger) plus if they’re interested at all in the corner.
Don’t forget that we’re still talking about the same Steelers staff who took a hard look at signing Keenan Lewis last fall, and eyeballed Dre Kirkpatrick and Davon House in free agency this year. That means the team isn’t sold on their current situation and is looking to improve yesterday, instead of tomorrow.
It’s not past Pittsburgh to bring in free agents to help prop up the depth chart, should draft picks not pan out the way they anticipate. We’ve seen it happen before with signings such as Lance Moore, DeAngelo Williams, Darrius Heyward-Bey and most recently, Justin Hunter. The acquisitions don’t always work out as anticipated, but adding Revis would give them a Plan B if their draft board doesn’t work out near the end of April.
In other words, if Revis’s comments aren’t all talk, then maybe it would behoove the Steelers to have a sit down with the free agent cornerback.